Unfixing knowledges': Queering the literacy curriculum

Year: 2007

Author: Walsh, Christopher

Type of paper: Refereed paper

In the literacy classroom, students have few opportunities to use their literacy practices to contest narratives of race, class, gender and sexuality. Instead, extensive time is spent completing literacy activities associated with what “good” readers and writers do. Students’ literacy practices are often formulaic, repetitive, and serve classroom management strategies producing a mythic narrative of good literacy teaching. This paper introduces a queer literacy curriculum that poses pedagogy as a series of questions: What does being taught, what does knowledge do to students? How does knowledge become understood in the relationship between teacher/text and student? (Lusted, 1986) It emphasizes developing critical analyses of heterosexism, heteronormativity and normativity with the goal of helping students understand binary categories are not givens, rather social constructions we are often forced to perform (Butler, 1990) through available discourses. The paper highlights an interruption into the literacy curriculum where, through collective memory work, students investigated, analysed and contested the usually-not-noticed ways a small understanding of heterosexuality has come to structure their lives.